Tag Archives: 2005

Throwback Thursday: “War of the Worlds” (2005)!

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog,  I will never stop loving Steven Spielberg’s 2005 take on H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds.”  It was a damned decent science fiction epic, the special effects were fabulous, and it’s actually pretty scary upon its first viewing.  The movie successfully channeled post-9/11 anxieties without exploiting them, and Spielberg characteristically humanized the story’s apocalypse by framing it through the eyes of a realistic, relatable modern family.  (The terror of the genocidal monsters is a little ironic, too … when I was a kid, Spielberg was known for the wondrous aliens of 1977’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and 1982’s “E.T. — The Extra Terrestrial.”)

Say what you want about Tom Cruise … I think he’s a decent actor, and he’s led some really terrific science fiction films.  Dakota Fanning was fantastic child actor here, and Tim Robbins was predictably brilliant (even if his story arc, in my opinion, was largely unnecessary and too depressing).

This was a great flick.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “The War of the Worlds” (1953)!

Man, did “The War of the Worlds” rock my world as a little kid.  When this movie made the rounds on 1980’s television, it was arguably a bigger reason to celebrate than a “Godzilla” movie.

I’m a little puzzled to realize that neither the trailer or the original film poster below show the Martian ships, which were pretty damned nifty for a 50’s movie.  I’m not sure why that is.  (Maybe up to  certain point the filmmakers wanted to save that as a surprise for people who bought a ticket?)

This isn’t the only adaptation of the classic 1898 H. G. Wells novel that I would come to love.  A few years later, I wound up getting the famous 1939 radio play on cassette tape.  And as an adult, I’ll always enjoy  Steven Spielberg’s genuinely frightening big-budget 2005 version.  I haven’t quite warmed to the new BBC series yet, but maybe that will change.

 

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A short review of “Killing Ground” (2016)

I can’t say that the Australian “Killing Ground” (2016) is a bad horror-thriller.  It’s well made in some ways — most notably in its generally excellent cast.  (The standouts here are Harriet Dyer and Ian Meadows; the latter provides a disturbingly naturalistic performance as one of the story’s evildoers.  He’s a talented actor and unnervingly skilled in his role here.)  And the cinematography is good, even if it suffers in inevitable comparison to the seminal Australian outback horror-thrillers, the extraordinary “Wolf Creek” films and TV series (2005-2017).

But I can’t actually recommend “Killing Ground” either, because I didn’t enjoy it much.  I’d rate it only a 4 out of 10 for its strengths.   What held me back from enjoying the movie more is its brutal portrayal of violence.

I realize that sounds ridiculous, given my viewing habits and the films I’ve favorably reviewed right here at this blog.  (Any entry in the “Wolf Creek” series, for example, contains far more violence and sadism than “Killing Ground.”)  And I’ll probably do a poor job of explaining it now.

But the violence here feels too … realistic.  (Other reviewers have noted this as well, and employed the descriptor “hyper-realistic.”)  Furthermore, its depiction is not in service to the story, but rather seems the sole and primary focus of the film itself.  One of my complaints about “Killing Ground” is that there is not much of a story at all.  We simply witness random violence perpetrated against ordinary innocents who we would probably like if we met them.  (I am trying to avoid spoilers here; hence my vague language.)

Writer-director Damien Power also delivers this brutality to the audience in a … prosaic manner, I guess, with little fanfare.  His movie came across to me like a faux snuff film, instead of a cinematic story of good and evil, or a character-driven survival parable.  (I submit that “Wolf Creek” hit it out of the park on both of those counts.)

If you think I’m being unclear here, I apologize for that.  The point I’m trying to make is maddeningly difficult to articulate.  And I’ll concede up front that my reaction to this film is especially subjective.

If it gives you any context, I’ll point out that critical reaction to “Killing Ground” was quite divided, with some reviewers sharing my discomfort, while others lauded the film.  Your mileage may vary.

 

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“Time to die.” Rest easy, Sir Rutger Hauer.

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

— Rutger Hauer’s closing soliloquy in “Blade Runner” (1982), Ridley Scott’s seminal adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1968 science fiction novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.”  The actor co-wrote the speech that appears in the movie.

Hauer died Friday at age 75.  The news of his passing was reported today.

His role in “Blade Runner” will always define him in my mind.  But I also grew up seeing him in “Ladyhawke” (1985), “The Hitcher” (1986) and “Blind Fury” (1989); and later was pleased to discover him in “Batman Begins” and “Sin City” (2005).  Believe it or not, it was “The Hitcher” and not “Blade Runner” that first made me love Hauer’s performances.  I was still in early high school when I saw both films.  The former was among the first horror movies I truly loved, and I wasn’t yet mature enough to fully appreciate the latter.

Hauer was Knight in the Dutch Order of the Netherlands Lion.

What an amazing artist, whose creativity in his craft brought so much enjoyment to others.